Month: December 2020

Honduras Says That Military Agreements with the U.S. “Remain Firm”

first_imgBy Dialogo July 22, 2009 Tegucigalpa, July 20 (EFE).- Military relations and security protocols between Honduras and the United States “remain firm,” the Undersecretary of Defense of the Central American country, Gabo Jalil, told EFE today. The official of the new administration headed by Roberto Micheletti, following the coup d’état against ousted president Manuel Zelaya on June 28, indicated that “Honduras is going to respect these relationships with the United States.” As a result of Zelaya’s overthrow, some popular sectors that are demanding Zelaya’s return to power have begun to call on the United States to suspend military aid to Honduras and withdraw its military personnel stationed on the local base of Palmerola, about seventy-five kilometers north of Tegucigalpa. Asked about this issue, Jalil responded that “the military relations and protocols with the United States remain in place” and that so far, “no information has been received” regarding a possible suspension or withdrawal. Honduras and the United States maintain a military agreement dating from 1954, by which multiple cooperation and security programs involving the two countries have been established. The Palmerola Base was built by U.S. military personnel at the beginning of the 1980s as part of the U.S. security strategy in the region during the Cold War. The overthrow of Zelaya, dispatched by the military to Costa Rica, has given rise to a series of protests by sectors demanding his return, which Micheletti’s administration has made conditional on his agreement to stand trial for multiple crimes of which he is accused by the Attorney General’s Office. Zelaya took office on 27 January 2006 for a four-year term.last_img read more

Salvadoran Museum Exhibits Moon Rock Brought Back by Apollo XVII

first_imgBy Dialogo July 28, 2009 San Salvador, July 26 (EFE).- Starting today, the Museum of Anthropology of El Salvador is exhibiting a fragment of moon rock brought back by the crew of Apollo XVII, the last lunar mission carried out by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in December 1972. The exhibition, commemorating the fortieth anniversary of man’s arrival on the moon in this Central American country, is accompanied by posters and scale models that tell the story of the Apollo missions. The director of the Museum, Gregorio Bello-Suazo, told EFE that the fragment is “a jewel” that will serve as a message, especially for children and young people, that “it’s possible to reach big objectives” in daily life. The fragment, which was donated to the country by former U.S. president Richard Nixon in March 1973, was part of the rock called “Sample 70017” that the president distributed among several countries and all the U.S. states, according to a document from the United States embassy in San Salvador. Jorge Colorado, a member of the Salvadoran Astronomy Association (ASTRO), said in a private opening ceremony on Saturday that the fragment is the “most ancient” material of the universe accessible to Salvadorans, given that it is believed to have been formed more than 3.6 billion years ago. “It is much older than the ancient rocks that started to form Central America,” Colorado said, while highlighting the fact that the fragment, which is no more than three centimeters in size, is “a geological summary of the whole moon.” The small fragment is exhibited in a crystal sphere attached to a plaque, which also holds a Salvadoran flag that traveled to the satellite on board Apollo XVII, along with flags from other countries. The private opening ceremony was attended by retired NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski, who gave a summary of his activities in various missions to outer space. The astronaut, who was born in Arkansas (U.S.) in 1961, presented a video of a space walk that he took outside the international space station in 2007 and in which he made repairs to a solar panel. The fragment of moon rock will remain on exhibit for a month, and according to Bello-Suazo, the possibility of setting up a gallery to make the exhibition on the Apollo missions permanent is under consideration.last_img read more

Colombia Confirms Death Of Rebel Commander

first_imgBy Dialogo February 26, 2010 Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva confirmed the death of a leftist rebel commander who authorities said headed up the guerrillas’ drug-trafficking activities in the southern part of the country. Angel Gabriel Lozada, alias “Edgar Tovar” – commander of the 48th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group – was killed on Jan. 20 but it was not until Wednesday that he was identified through DNA tests. He had once been chief of security for the FARC’s No. 2, Raul Reyes, who was killed on March 1, 2008 in a Colombian military airstrike on a clandestine rebel camp in Ecuadorian territory. Silva told a press conference in Bogota that Lozada was the FARC’s head of drug trafficking and said he had died in clashes with army troops in a rural area outside Puerto Asis, a city in the southern province of Putumayo. Another eight rebels were also killed by army soldiers in the fighting, which erupted after the bombardment of guerrilla camps. Silva said the slain commander was also the person “who controlled drug-trafficking activities for the FARC” in southern Colombia. “He also operated in Ecuador,” Silva said, adding that “he was a dangerous person” because in addition to cocaine trafficking he provided arms and explosives to other FARC fronts. Last week, the Colombian police released documents indicating that Lozada invested $15,000 in the pyramid scheme headed by David Murcia Guzman, who was extradited to the United States earlier this year to face money-laundering charges. The documents were seized by Colombian authorities at one of the rebel camps. The FARC, founded in 1964, is now thought to have around 8,000 fighters and operates across a large swath of this Andean nation. President Alvaro Uribe’s administration has made fighting the FARC a top priority and has obtained billions of dollars in U.S. aid for counterinsurgency operations.last_img read more

Panama, U.S. Sign Security Agreement

first_imgBy Dialogo June 21, 2010 The United States and Panama signed a security agreement to reduce and prevent the crime in Darien province, bordering with Colombia. The agreement called the “Darien Initiative” was signed by Panamanian Economy and Finance Minister Alberto Vallarino and U.S. ambassadress to Panama Barbara Stephenson. Vallarino said he was optimistic about the achievements on implementing the agreement, which is mainly centered on the cooperation of the local authorities in order to create “safer communities,” to face the external threats against the civilians. According to Vallarino, the Darien is a vulnerable zone for illegal actions such as weapons trafficking, smuggling and drug trafficking. “The cooperation will be centered on creating better life conditions for the people, mainly for the younger,” added Stephenson. “The goal is to protect vulnerable young people and change their lives with scholarships and create safer communities.” Darien is considered the zone of higher risk for its proximity to Colombia, where there has been armed conflicts since more than 40 years before, including, guerilla, paramilitaries and drug traffickers.last_img read more

Ecuador Judges that Conditions for Normalizing Relationship with Colombia Have Been Met

first_img Ecuador judges that its requirements for fully normalizing diplomatic relations with Colombia have been met, although the naming of ambassadors has not yet been determined, both countries’ foreign ministers announced following a meeting in Quito. “With this, we have to make it absolutely clear that the requirements that were part of the sensitive issues have been taken care of,” the Ecuadorean foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, said at a press conference with his Colombian counterpart, María Angela Holguín. Nevertheless, the Colombian minister indicated that a date for naming ambassadors has not been determined at present. “I’m personally not going to put a date on it; we have a very positive relationship, there’s an ongoing dialogue, we’re working in cooperation with one another, and the defense ministers have been working very well on security,” Holguín indicated. Following the meeting, the Colombian defense ministry confirmed in Bogotá that a fifteen-year-old Ecuadorean girl died in an attack against the FARC guerrilla group near the border Monday. The military affirmed that a total of sixteen rebels were killed in the action. The meeting aimed to discuss the so-called sensitive issues for the complete normalization of relations and included defense ministers Javier Ponce (Ecuador) and Rodrigo Rivera (Colombia). By Dialogo November 22, 2010last_img read more

Paraguayan Parlasur Legislators Uneasy About Argentine Nuclear Plan

first_imgBy Dialogo March 31, 2011 Paraguayan Parlasur legislators have expressed their concern about an Argentine plan to install a nuclear plant in the border province of Formosa, near the Paraguayan capital, according to a declaration made public on 29 March. If the plan comes to fruition in the border area, “it will constitute a serious threat to public health and to the surrounding ecosystem, due to the risks entailed in an energy source with these characteristics,” according to the declaration. The group of legislators expressed concern about the nuclear plants already in existence in both Argentina and Brazil, two in each of those neighboring countries. They recalled that some countries, such as Venezuela, have suspended nuclear-plant construction projects, and others have taken very old plants, which would not be able to withstand failures or accidents, out of service. At the same time, at the opening of an international meeting on renewable energy, Paraguayan Environment Secretary Oscar Rivas reminded his audience of the tragedy experienced by Japan in relation to its nuclear plants and recalled the risks of atomic energy, still not overcome. Parlasur is the deliberative body of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay).last_img read more

U.S. Ends Anti-Drug Support Program in Bolivia and Transfers Equipment

first_imgBy Dialogo July 09, 2012 The U.S. Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS) has announced the start of the transfer of infrastructure, equipment, and weapons to the Bolivian Government, as a donation, in advance of the September conclusion of its program to support the fight against drug trafficking. “At this time, the corresponding transfer to the National Council against Illicit Drug Trafficking is being made,” said Felipe Cáceres, the Bolivian official responsible for the fight against drugs. The transfer encompasses small planes, “eight helicopters, 1,500 station wagons, about 45 Caimans (vehicles), boats, armaments, and equipment” assigned to the different Military and police agencies involved in the fight against drug trafficking, and “all the infrastructure that the U.S. Government has built” over 20 years, the official added. He specified that this set of assets will become the property of either the Joint Task Force, by way of the Defense Ministry, or the Special Anti-Drug-Trafficking Strike Force, which falls under the police. Cáceres explained that the withdrawal of the NAS is due to budgetary reasons: “We understand that it’s strictly a question of a financial deficit.” Nevertheless, he said that the withdrawal of U.S. support will not have a negative effect on the Bolivian Government’s current work. The fight against drugs “is going to be sustainable, is not going to vary for any reason, any operation. On the contrary, we’re going to increase the number of operations,” the deputy minister stated. The operations will be the responsibility of the Executive Unit for the fight against drug trafficking, which falls under the Interior Ministry, “with a budget of more than 20 million dollars.”last_img read more

CENTSEC 2015: Taking Back the Northern Triangle

first_imgPresident Obama’s $1 billion request to the U.S. Congress is aimed at reinforcing the decision of Central America’s leaders to address the challenges that have long plagued this region, but especially, illicit drug trafficking. A two-week operation conducted by INTERPOL at the end of 2014 resulted in more than 27.5 tons of drugs being seized. Operation Lionfish II targeted the illicit trafficking of drugs and firearms by organized crime groups across Central America and the Caribbean. The seized drugs included cocaine, cannabis, and heroin, and the cocaine haul alone was valued at almost $1.3 billion, according to data released by INTERPOL. Preceding Gen. Kelly, Honduran Defense Minister Samuel Reyes Rendón addressed the forum to thank the U.S. government for all the help they provide and the partnership between the country’s Armed Forces and SOUTHCOM. “Thanks to our militaries’ combined efforts, Honduras has become a hostile environment for narcotraffickers. There’s still a lot to be done, but we are moving forward and we have accomplished a lot in the past few months.” The conference is taking place in Tegucigalpa, Honduras from 24-26 March, and gathered representatives of the armed and security forces from Belize, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and the United States. The three-day event is co-sponsored by SOUTHCOM. By Dialogo March 26, 2015 Illicit trafficking of drugs and persons is an increased problem for several countries around the globe. Criminals are using smarter and more effective ways to conduct their businesses and it is becoming more and more difficult to disrupt their illegal networks. It’s no wonder, then, that the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), in collaboration with partners from the Government of Honduras, decided to focus on “Strengthening Regional Security Cooperation to Counter Transnational Organized Crime” as the theme for this year’s Central American Security Conference (CENTSEC 2015), the purpose of which is to identify and share knowledge and experiences obtained from countering illicit actors to reduce the levels of violence, stem the flow of illegal drugs, and contribute to greater regional stability. “The request was for 1.99 billion, which represents a 34.7 percent increase when compared to 2014,” said Assistant Secretary Jacobson. President Obama’s $1 billion request to the U.S. Congress is aimed at reinforcing the decision of Central America’s leaders to address the challenges that have long plagued this region, but especially, illicit drug trafficking. During his opening remarks, U.S. Marine Corps General John F. Kelly, commander of SOUTHCOM, made reference to the presence of so many high-level personnel and introduced Ms. Erin Logan, one of U.S. President Barack Obama’s top advisors on Central America, attending CENTSEC for the first time. During his opening remarks, U.S. Marine Corps General John F. Kelly, commander of SOUTHCOM, made reference to the presence of so many high-level personnel and introduced Ms. Erin Logan, one of U.S. President Barack Obama’s top advisors on Central America, attending CENTSEC for the first time. “From Ciudad Juarez to Colon, we’re seeing real improvements in regional cooperation, and it’s translating into significant security gains, such as military and security forces doing an excellent job protecting human rights, even when conducting challenging domestic security missions. And we can expect populations to start recognizing these improvements as words and actions start aligning with the new reality of security gains,” concluded Gen. Kelly. In August there will be 4 days of night It’s good to stand before a dialogue. But emptiness complies The conversation on the Alliance for Prosperity could not have come at a more appropriate time in the conference, since U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson requested Congress’s approval to grant almost $2 billion in aid for Latin America and the Caribbean, with half of that amount destined specifically to Central American countries. According to Gen. Kelly, Ms. Logan is there to discuss the U.S. plan to support the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle, a joint initiative aimed at boosting economic growth, job opportunities, access to health and education, and improved security conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Preceding Gen. Kelly, Honduran Defense Minister Samuel Reyes Rendón addressed the forum to thank the U.S. government for all the help they provide and the partnership between the country’s Armed Forces and SOUTHCOM. It’s likely that no other region in the world suffers more with this problem than Central America and its so-called Northern Triangle. The illicit drug trade feeds into and supports organized crime in all its forms, exacerbating extreme violence, instability, and the chronic weakening of state institutions. The presence of high-ranking personnel from all countries in attendance, including Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado, was a testament to the importance of this year’s event. For his part, President Hernández addressed the audience to highlight the value of working together. The conference is taking place in Tegucigalpa, Honduras from 24-26 March, and gathered representatives of the armed and security forces from Belize, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and the United States. The three-day event is co-sponsored by SOUTHCOM. “From Ciudad Juarez to Colon, we’re seeing real improvements in regional cooperation, and it’s translating into significant security gains, such as military and security forces doing an excellent job protecting human rights, even when conducting challenging domestic security missions. And we can expect populations to start recognizing these improvements as words and actions start aligning with the new reality of security gains,” concluded Gen. Kelly. A two-week operation conducted by INTERPOL at the end of 2014 resulted in more than 27.5 tons of drugs being seized. Operation Lionfish II targeted the illicit trafficking of drugs and firearms by organized crime groups across Central America and the Caribbean. The seized drugs included cocaine, cannabis, and heroin, and the cocaine haul alone was valued at almost $1.3 billion, according to data released by INTERPOL. The conversation on the Alliance for Prosperity could not have come at a more appropriate time in the conference, since U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson requested Congress’s approval to grant almost $2 billion in aid for Latin America and the Caribbean, with half of that amount destined specifically to Central American countries. Another strong point of discussion during CENTSEC 2015 is Operation MARTILLO, which is one of the United States’s components in the whole-of-government approach to countering the use of the Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons, and cash. “It’s important that our Armed Forces continue to support our security forces because the combat to narcotrafficking must be an intrinsic one, even though we all know this is not the original role of the military.” “The request was for 1.99 billion, which represents a 34.7 percent increase when compared to 2014,” said Assistant Secretary Jacobson. The presence of high-ranking personnel from all countries in attendance, including Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado, was a testament to the importance of this year’s event. For his part, President Hernández addressed the audience to highlight the value of working together. Another strong point of discussion during CENTSEC 2015 is Operation MARTILLO, which is one of the United States’s components in the whole-of-government approach to countering the use of the Central American littorals as transshipment routes for illicit drugs, weapons, and cash. Operation MARTILLO is an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land, and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies to counter illicit trafficking. However, as Gen. Kelly reminded everyone, “this isn’t a blank check—it’s very much a shared responsibility. Your political leaders are equally committed to doing their part to get after the root causes of insecurity, and your people appear willing to support these measures.” He also thanked SOUTHCOM for its support, and emphasized the success of the combined effort, called Escudo Marítimo (Maritime Shield). “Homicides rates in the country are going down, and the Honduran economy is getting stronger and stronger.” It’s no wonder, then, that the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), in collaboration with partners from the Government of Honduras, decided to focus on “Strengthening Regional Security Cooperation to Counter Transnational Organized Crime” as the theme for this year’s Central American Security Conference (CENTSEC 2015), the purpose of which is to identify and share knowledge and experiences obtained from countering illicit actors to reduce the levels of violence, stem the flow of illegal drugs, and contribute to greater regional stability. He also thanked SOUTHCOM for its support, and emphasized the success of the combined effort, called Escudo Marítimo (Maritime Shield). “Homicides rates in the country are going down, and the Honduran economy is getting stronger and stronger.” It’s likely that no other region in the world suffers more with this problem than Central America and its so-called Northern Triangle. The illicit drug trade feeds into and supports organized crime in all its forms, exacerbating extreme violence, instability, and the chronic weakening of state institutions. “Thanks to our militaries’ combined efforts, Honduras has become a hostile environment for narcotraffickers. There’s still a lot to be done, but we are moving forward and we have accomplished a lot in the past few months.” Illicit trafficking of drugs and persons is an increased problem for several countries around the globe. Criminals are using smarter and more effective ways to conduct their businesses and it is becoming more and more difficult to disrupt their illegal networks. However, as Gen. Kelly reminded everyone, “this isn’t a blank check—it’s very much a shared responsibility. Your political leaders are equally committed to doing their part to get after the root causes of insecurity, and your people appear willing to support these measures.” According to Gen. Kelly, Ms. Logan is there to discuss the U.S. plan to support the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle, a joint initiative aimed at boosting economic growth, job opportunities, access to health and education, and improved security conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Operation MARTILLO is an international operation focused on sharing information and bringing together air, land, and maritime assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and Western Hemisphere and European partner nation agencies to counter illicit trafficking. “It’s important that our Armed Forces continue to support our security forces because the combat to narcotrafficking must be an intrinsic one, even though we all know this is not the original role of the military.” last_img read more

Hobbs joins BoG as a public member

first_img May 15, 2000 Regular News Hobbs joins BoG as a public member Gary Blankenship Associate Editor An English professor at Florida A&M University who once wanted to be a lawyer has been named as the newest public member on The Florida Bar Board of Governors. Dr. Vivian L. Hobbs, 56, of Tallahassee was selected by the Supreme Court from three finalists submitted by the Bar Board of Governors. Around 90 people filed applications for the post. The appointment, announced by the Supreme Court late last month, gives Hobbs a chance to pursue her long-time fascination with the law. “My initial interest was I wanted to become an attorney,” she said. Unfortunately for that goal, “I got married to a guy who was in the military as a career, and we moved on an average of every 18 months, and I reared four kids.” But she also had an interest in pursuing a doctorate and “I was able to juggle the rigors of a Ph.D. and raise my kids and move with my husband.” Her degrees are in English literature, and Hobbs’ special interest is the medieval and Victorian eras. “It sets the practices and standards for today’s society,” she said. “The way we interpret in Western Civilization was set in medieval England.” Her career path may have been a loss to the legal profession, but is definitely a gain for teaching. “I kind of believe that teachers are born and I love being a teacher,” Hobbs said. “It’s not enough to know stuff, you need to know how to articulate and communicate it to others. “I guess I was reared to always give something back to the community. That’s one way to do it and probably the most important way to keep our youths educated and informed, and to prepare them to become the adult citizens of the next generation.” Hobbs said she is looking forward to her board service, especially since it comes at a time of heightened concern about increasing the number of minorities in the profession and when chances are improving in the legislature that FAMU will “retrieve” its law school. (See story, page 1.) “This will give me a way to become that voice for the minority citizen in this big operation called the Florida legal system,” Hobbs said. Besides that role, she said she’s looking forward to learning more about the legal profession and the Bar, adding, “I’d like to do more to promote the Bar and all of the wonderful things you do.” Her anticipation was heightened, Hobbs said, by her interview with the Bar’s Public Member Screening Committee. “I was bowled over by the professionalism and the type of questions they asked me that led me to paint a picture of myself,” she said. “It was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I left [not knowing she would be a finalist for the public member seat] with a warm feeling about the Bar.” Among 90 applicants, Hobbs was one of 11 the screening committee decided to interview, and then one of the five chosen for further consideration. The committee presented those five to the Board of Governors, and recommended its top three, which included Hobbs. The other two were Florida Medical Association President Dr. Mathis Becker of Plantation, a retired thoracic and vascular surgeon, and Wilfredo Gonzalez of Jacksonville, the district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration office in Jacksonville Board member Carol Brewer, who chaired the committee which screened the applicants, told the Board of Governors the panel was pleased with the quality and diversity of the applicants. The committee didn’t make any special attempt to wind up with diverse nominees, she said, but its five finalists include two African-American women, one Hispanic woman, one Hispanic male and one white male. Hobbs will replace Dr. Alvin Smith, who has served the maximum two terms for public members allowed under Bar rules. She will be sworn-in June 23 at the Bar Annual Meeting in Boca Raton, along with other new and returning board members. Hobbs joins BoG as a public memberlast_img read more

Lawyers must safeguard their independence

first_imgLawyers must safeguard their independence Lawyers must safeguard their independence Mark D. Killian Managing Editor Lawyers are the keepers of the flame that glows in the torch of Lady Liberty, and the profession’s devotion to truth and the rule of law is paramount if lawyers are going to continue to “guard the thin and occasional indistinct line that separates civilization from the jungle,” according to Harvard law professor Arthur MillerAnd lawyers cannot fulfill their role in society unless they remain independent from public opinion, their clients, and the government, Miller told those assembled at the Trial Lawyer Section’s recent Chester Bedell Luncheon at the Bar’s Annual Meeting, which celebrates the independence of American lawyers.Miller said our system of government is sensitive to rights of individuals and ensuring a fair process, and for lawyers to do their work, they must be independent in thought and action.“Without 360 degrees of independence we would not only degrade ourselves professionally and impair our ability to discharge our duties to clients, but we also would not be able to engage in various types of socially desirable work — whether it is aiding the disadvantaged or participating in the policy issues of the day,” Miller saidMiller said there are four major types of independence lawyers must adhere to: independence in the practice of law; independence from public opinion; independence from clients; and independence from government.Independence in the practice of law, Miller said, is less common and feasible today than it once was because most lawyers do not fit the old pattern of the free professional. That is, the independent attorney working in a rural or small community.“In that environment. . . the lawyer was self-employed without long-term ties to particular clients and rather free to pick and choose among the cases offered to him,” Miller said. “Today many lawyers are in large, sometimes extremely large, firms and many others are essentially employed by business, large public and private institutions, and have much less freedom to work and make decisions.”They are subjected to pressure such as a preoccupation with billable hours and the bottom line.“The practice of law, particularly in the major cities, is becoming a business, obscuring what it means to be a professional,” Miller said, adding that there is an understandable desire to reduce costs and delays, which often leads to a preference for avoiding trials at all costs.“Too often the trial lawyer is dominated by the pretrial lawyer who is dominated by the settling lawyer or dominated by the risk adverse lawyer, and all of them are in turn dominated by judicial pressure or client pressure,” he said. “Although compromise is desirable, sometimes going to trial to achieve a result on the merits is best for the client and, depending on the issues involved, may be best for the community.”Miller said lawyers also must remain independent from public opinion, which might seem strange in a society in which people rule.“But we are also a society that respects the rights of unpopular individuals and groups and ideas, and it is the lawyer who must strive to protect them,” Miller said.When the media get into a “frenzy mode,” prejudice and prejudgement are the frequent results, he said.“We should not succumb to that and we should not contribute to that,” Miller said. “The lure of media exposure and self-aggrandizement simply compromises our processes.”He said participating in the frenzy does not benefit clients and contributes to lack of confidence in our system. The phenomena is nothing new.During colonial times, Miller noted, the press helped whip the public into a frenzy over what was termed the Boston Massacre, where British troops fired into ruckus a mob killing five colonists. Lawyer John Adams, who went on to help write the Declaration of Independence and serve as the nation’s second president, defended the soldiers, an unpopular choice for him.“But Adams believed that no person in a free society should be denied the right to counsel or denied a fair trial,” said Miller, adding that it is said that Adams lost half his practice after taking the case. “But in time his representation of the British increased his public standing, making him in the long-run more respected than ever.”Of the six soldiers charged, four were acquitted and two were convicted only of manslaughter.Miller said Adams later wrote, “It was one of the most gallant, generous, manly, and disinterested actions of my whole life and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country.”Miller said short-term bowing to popular opinion may not necessarily produce the greatest payoff in the long-run.“We must remember we have an adversarial system in which fairness depends on spirited advocacy on both sides,” Miller said. “We must never permit the desire to be liked. . . to compromise our independence, our willingness to stand up for our clients.”Miller also said explaining the law and how it functions to the public is generally a good thing and cannot be done by media people.“I don’t think we can depend on them for accuracy, insight, or balance,” Miller said. “How many times has a jury verdict been called a finding of innocence? And how many times has a denial of certiorari been described as a decision on the merits?”Whether it is print or broadcast, the media has no sense of proportion, he said, citing that is evidenced by the present “maniacal, repetitive, and overblown coverage” of the Scott Peterson case, which will soon be replaced by the trial of Kobe Bryant, which in turn will be followed by that of Michael Jackson.“Much of what we do has become a commodity for the media and a free commodity at that,” Miller said. “We cannot participate in the type of pandering that makes a good TV broadcast. We all must exercise independence from the media.”Miller said lawyers also must remain independent from clients, as well.“Once hired, the lawyer wants for good reason to follow his or her own professional judgment instead of the client’s agenda and dictates when the two conflict,” Miller said. “We did not go to law school to become running dogs or ventriloquist’s dummies for our clients. We cannot become beholden to our clients the way I think, sadly, too many doctors have become beholden to their HMOs.”He said the statement “my client made me do it” is not a viable excuse, but an abdication of responsibility.Miller said his TV mentor, Fred Friendly, told him: “It is not enough to tell a client that he or she or it has a legal right to do something. The independent lawyer goes further and counsels the client as to what is the right thing to do.”Miller also holds that independence from government is essential for the American lawyer.“We forget that lawyers in many countries do not have the benefits of any such assumption of independence from government,” Miller said. “A defense lawyer in the former Soviet Union or China today has no independence worthy of its name. To the extent we have it, we should cherish it.”Another colonial times case illustrates the importance of this independence from government pressure, Miller said.In 1735, printer John Peter Zenger was charged with seditious libels for a pamphlet he published about the royal governor of New York. The governor handpicked two judges to hear the case and one of their first acts was to disbar Zenger’s first two lawyers. So Zenger’s friends got Philadelphia’s Andrew Hamilton, considered by many the best trial lawyer in America at the time, to represent him. However, Miller said, the judges would not allow Hamilton to prove the criticisms of the governor were true because English law at that time did not provide that the truth was a defense from libel.Miller said Hamilton argued with “more eloquence and patriotism than with citation of legal authority” that truth should be a defense and, even with the judge’s instruction that the jury must follow the law, they returned a not guilty verdict.“O.J. Simpson was not the first case of jury nullification,” Miller said. “I think the Zenger case illustrates that if the government, or some part of it, tramples on the rights of the people, it is the lawyers who have the independence and courage and resourcefulness to resist.”In the wake of 9/11, Miller asked: “Are we as lawyers properly discharging and honoring the heritage of John Adams and Andrew Hamilton? Are we demonstrating appropriate independence from the government in defense of civil liberties?”Miller said a lawyer’s devotion to truth and the rule of law are more important than simply doing what they are told to do by higher authorities.Wendell Phillips, 150 years ago, said eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, “and that is true in good times and in bad times,” Miller said. August 1, 2004 Managing Editor Regular Newslast_img read more